Battling for Glory

July 2, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Posted in I Peter | 5 Comments
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As Christians, our journey on the road to glory begins with our spiritual birth. As we move from glory to glory with our minds “hinged” (not unhinged), and with our eyes fixed on Jesus, Who is both the Author and the Finisher of our journey, we remember that we are sojourners and pilgrims, not homeless wanderers. All through this journey, we are being prepared for glory as we go, and we are moving toward the fullness of glory, even as we make conquests along the way. We are bringing our thoughts into captivity and getting victories over our enemies, but how well the devil knows this tendency of ours to think of the victories as “ours!”

Here is where we have to be in the Word and filled with the Spirit. A victory along the way is not winning the whole war.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

The war is the whole campaign, not an individual battle.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. and I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:17-18

Peter would be very displeased with the idea (proffered by many people) that he is the rock upon which the church is built, and the false idea that his successors get revelations from God not found in His Holy Word.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 3:11

Flesh and blood don’t reveal to us that Jesus is the Son of God. We become children of God by grace through faith. Likewise, we don’t fight spiritual battles by flesh and blood. We fight by submitting to God’s Spirit, and we do this by faith.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

II Corinthians 10:3

This is a paradox. We win battles by surrendering. We do fight battles, but we don’t win these battles by fighting them in the worldly way. Beware of the temptation of Satan. Victory in battle can easily give place to lawlessness, but an attitude of submission does not allow for lawlessness or rebellion.

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

I Peter 2:12

Our submission to God will be a witness to unbelievers.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

I Peter 1:13

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

I Peter 1:15

Having a good testimony in the presence of unbelievers is not the way to bring ourselves glory. It is a way to bring glory to God, and to present a favorable impression of Him in the eyes of the lost for the “day of visitation.”

Think Again

October 12, 2015 at 9:55 am | Posted in Common Expressions, II Corinthians | 1 Comment
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Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

II Corinthians 10:7

In Chapter 10 of II Corinthians the Apostle Paul is writing to the believers in the church at Corinth, and in some ways defending himself. He’s saying, “Look, if these people who speak out against me are bringing my outward appearance into it, that should be a warning right there.” So, he’s refuting the false teachers, but he’s doing it in gentleness and meekness. If the church members at Corinth claimed that they belonged to Christ, then they should not have been against Paul, for he certainly belonged to Christ, too.

The expression, “What I think…” too often really means, “I’m right and you’re wrong, and here’s why.” We must remember that, in order to draw near to God, it is never necessary to push someone else away from Him. There is room near God for the people with whom we are not in total agreement about every single secondary issue.

When I start to say, “Well, I think,” in a negative way, I need to “think again.” If I’m speaking to a brother or sister in Christ, we are in this together.

How to Get High in Christian Ministry

October 21, 2013 at 11:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

Christians are supposed to operate on a different level: the level of Christ, not the level of this world. The level of Christ is a higher, better level, where God is honored and people are truly helped.

1. Get High by Climbing Up

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3 (emphasis added)

Who can ascend? Who can climb the hill of the Lord? The strong? The swift? The worldly wise? The prestigious? The famous? The wealthy? The influential? We must throw out our worldly ideas of what it means to “ascend” – to go up. You have to be bold to climb, says the world; but Gods says the contrite are the ones who will climb up to higher ground.

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 57:15

Contrition is a recognition that you have been conquered by someone more powerful than you. Contrition is freedom before God; it is bondage, oppression, and terror before anyone else. It takes strength to climb, says the world, there are no handicapped mountain climbers; but God says the broken are the ones who will climb up to higher ground in Christian ministry.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:17

Someone who is broken before God is someone who realizes that he or she has messed up badly: someone who is willing to admit that he or she is wrong. Common sense would tell us that this is disastrous in a setting where other people can use your admission of wrong-doing or failure against you, but God requires a brokenness – a willingness to admit mistakes, faults, sins.

No one will ascend to higher ground under his own power. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who do not get weary in well-doing because they do not depend on their own strength. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who have a guide Who will lead them over or around the streams and boulders of temptation. The only ones who will ascend are those who have the right foot-gear: their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. That means we need to be prepared to be Gospel-centered when we deal with non-Christians and with each other. Our distinguishing characteristics should be grace, mercy, love, truth, peace, forgiveness, and longsuffering.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones whom the Lord Himself will lift up.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

In Christian ministry you “get high” by “getting low.”

2. Get High by Cleaning Off

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:3-4 (emphasis added)

What makes our hands so unclean?

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

I Timothy 2:8

Wrath makes our hands dirty. You can’t get right with God while you’re not right with your brother or sister in Christ. Wrath is reserved for God with the exception of our wrath against sin and against our spiritual enemies in high places. Wrath makes hands unclean, and so does doubting. When we have an unpleasant ministry job to do, we say we’re getting our hands dirty, but really we’re getting them clean. Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean.

If ministering in love cleans the hands, what washes the heart to make it pure? The Word of God.

Christ gave Himself for the Church…

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

3. Get High by Casting Down

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:4 (emphasis added)

Vanity is a type of idolatry. It is anything you are pursuing, or walking after the course of, that is not of God. Hopefully, you do not worship a graven idol, but if idolatry is giving your heart to anything that that is spiritually empty, then I am afraid that too much of what captures our hearts is vanity, and we are guilty of lifting up our souls to it. What should we be doing with vanity? With emptiness? With anything that is what the Bible calls “imaginations:” anything without eternal worth?

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

We should be casting vanity down, not lifting ourselves up to it. Casting down means destroying: the way that God’s people were at times supposed to destroy their enemies under the herem (the “ban”). God wanted them all destroyed: women, children, livestock, altars, statues of false gods – everything. If a weed is simply pruned back, but not utterly destroyed, it will always grow back, often stronger than it was before. If we are going to climb up to higher ground, we are going to have to cast down imaginations, not just what the imaginations produce. If I am not reading my Bible regularly, it’s not enough just to determine to read my Bible more. If I am not praying regularly, it is not enough just to determine to pray more. I must get to the thinking which is causing these problems. I must get the root out by casting down imaginations and worldly thinking.

Imagination in Marriage

February 22, 2013 at 10:11 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians, II Corinthians | 6 Comments
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Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

I Corinthians 7:2-5 (emphasis added)

Previously, I have shown that Satan attacks the fortified walls of marriages with craftiness and deceit. We are to be ready for various types of attacks by:

1. Not being ignorant. Satan is going to attack in this area.
2. Facing up to the fact that his attack is going to be a fierce attack.
3. Realizing that this attack could come at unexpected times and from unexpected angles.
4. Preparing to recognize infiltrating spies, in which Satan utilizes worldly lies masquerading as common wisdom.
5. Preparing to recognize attacks in the form of burrowing under the protective wall around your marriage, in which Satan seeks to utilize our God-given sensual appetites to his own nefarious advantage.

Now, we will see that we must also:

6. Prepare to recognize attacks coming over the top of the walls.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

II Corinthians 10:3

The Bible does not say that Christians do not wage warfare. Just because our warfare is spiritual and not physical, it does not mean that our warfare is any “less real.”

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:4-5 (emphasis added)

If I cast something “down,” that implies that, before I get to it, it is something “higher” than me. When I think about my marriage, I need to be careful to identify things that might be sitting in a “high place” in my mind where they should not be. “Imagination,” in the sense we normally use that word, is not a bad thing. In previous lessons I have advocated using our creativity and imaginative thinking in making the romantic aspects of our marriage enjoyable. But “imaginations” as used in these verses are a reference to human speculations that cause us to wonder about or doubt things on our own that might already be resolved, revealed, or even restricted in Scripture. Those “bad,” speculative imaginations can easily include things like sexual thoughts – thoughts that seem to be so sudden and secretive that they come to us unbidden.

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

II Corinthians 10:6

Impure thoughts should make us downright angry and vengeful – if our minds are captivated by obedience to Christ. This is the “hard work” of spiritual warfare, and Satan does not believe that you are going to put up a good fight when it comes to how we think about sex in marriage. Therefore, he is very bold. He is trying to send these “exalted thoughts” right up and over your battlements. Next time I will identify three assailants that he will send to try to scale the fortifying walls of your marriage at the area we call “sexual fidelity.”

Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (spiritual application)

April 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 4 Comments
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The factual summary of the account of Gideon highlighted the use of some of the strangest weapons in any Biblical battle: pitchers. In the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to wage, we have a corollary for Gideon’s pitchers: our bodies. The Christian’s body sounds like more of a physical than a spiritual weapon, but the key is in how God works in us.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

II Corinthians 10:3-4

1. Pitchers can contain.

The purpose of a pitcher is to hold something. Just as Gideon’s pitchers were used to contain something, our bodies also serve as containers.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

The bodies of born-again believers are the containers of God’s Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Is God’s Spirit directing your body, and controlling it? Are you an obedient container? Do your feet go where God wants them to go? Do your hands touch only what God wants them to touch? Are you placing in your mouth and your stomach those things which help, instead of hurt, your body? Are your eyes looking at what God wants you to see? Are your ears listening to what God wants you to hear? Is your tongue saying what God wants you to say? Pitchers don’t decide for themselves what goes into them. The owner of a pitcher puts into it what he thinks is best.

When Gideon’s army brought their pitchers to the battle, God had a plan for them. In the spiritual battles we fight every day, we have our armor to protect us. We also have have prayer, the Bible, and love to help us fight. But don’t forget, your physical body is a part of the spiritual battle, too.

2. Pitchers can conceal.

Gideon’s pitchers concealed lamps. As Christians, we are to be light in a dark world, so we do not want to conceal the light of Christ, but there are times when the container of your body must be used to conceal things.

Nothing can be concealed from God. He looks on the inside, at the secret things. He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. The pitchers of Gideon’s army concealed their lights from the enemy until the time was right. The devil can’t read your mind, but he is watching you. There is a principle in the Bible of controlling yourself so that your weaknesses are not exposed.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

We are to bring our bodies under self-control. Gideon’s pitchers contained nothing but light.

3. Pitchers can crumble.

Gideon’s army had to use pitchers that were breakable.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:26-29

God has given us a great treasure – greater than wealth, health, fame, or influence. It is the Gospel message. He could have entrusted it to an angel. He could have given it only to powerful, wealthy, or influential men.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:4-7

This way, God gets the glory, not men. Pitchers are fragile, but there is power even in a broken pitcher.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:10

When we are broken, empty, and weak, then His glorious light shines forth and frightens and confounds the enemy, and causes him to flee.

Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

II Corinthians 13:3-4

When we look meek to men, we are strong in Christ. His power is strong in us. When Jesus was going toward the Cross He emptied Himself out of everything we tend to rely on for strength – He had no wealth, no reputation, no family, no friends, not even any clothes! On the Cross He was the emptiest Man Who ever lived. He even lay His Own life down when no man could take it from Him.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Psalm 31:5

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

Psalm 31:12

Pitchers can contain. Does God’s Spirit live within you? Pitchers can conceal. Are you able to surrender to His Spirit and be controlled in your body? Pitchers can crumble. Have you ever been broken before God? Does His light shine through your brokenness? Will you make noise for the Lord in the midst of His enemies, even if it means you have to be broken into pieces to do it?

Faithful to Him and to Each Other

April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

Christians should be reliable and trustworthy in ministry. Even as others rely on us, we must remember that we, too, rely on Someone ourselves.

II Chronicles 16 tells about Asa, the king who ruled Judah for about 40 years. He was mostly a good king, a Godly king, but near the end of his reign he had trouble remembering on Whom to rely. He entered into a treaty with Benhadad, king of Syria, because he didn’t trust the Lord to give him the victory.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

II Chronicles 16:7-9

No matter how much success we have with our ministry, and no matter how much we come to trust in the ways we minister and find motivation, we must remember to trust the Lord. We must remember to give Him the credit and the praise. We must remember to be faithful to follow His Word and His doctrine, and not to try to rely on our own personal beliefs.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:22

Christians are stewards and servants – first and foremost to Christ – but also, in many ways, to those to whom we minister. We need to have a desire to promote spiritual growth – growth in the form of maturity and in the form of closeness in fellowship.

When I Corinthians 4:2 says that faithfulness is required in stewards, it means that, obviously, unfaithfulness is not an option.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Each person has different talents and abilities, but every Christian has the ability to be faithful.

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

II Corinthians 10:18

I am glad that we are not responsible for commending ourselves. I’m also glad that the Lord’s acceptance of us is not conditional on the approval of others. What we’re seeking is the commendation of the Lord Himself.

We all are members of a body, and every member is important. For the body to function at full capacity, all the members should be faithfully working.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. I know that sometimes Christians can tend to overemphasize organization. The Body of Christ is more of an organism than an organization, but an unorganized organism would not live very long! Therefore Christians need to work together and get along with each other. We are valuable to each other, and, in a sense, we are even valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

When Jesus received the authority granted to Him after the Resurrection, He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will, but I am “valuable” to Him in the sense that He loves me and that it pleases Him to use me to accomplish His will.

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 22 Comments
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If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female). But the old man did not disappear. The old man – in the image of Adam – has a sinful nature. The new man – in Christ Jesus – has God’s nature. These two men are at war with each other. It is an intense struggle.

I. What is sin?

A. Sin is breaking God’s law.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

B. Sin is any unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

I John 5:17

C. Sin is anything done apart from faith.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

II. What causes sin?

A. My inherited sinful nature causes me to sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

I Corinthians 15:45-49

B. My old nature draws me into sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

C. We are tempted in three major areas: we like to feel good; we like to look at that which is pleasing to the eyes; we like to feel important in the eyes of others.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16

III. How does God deal with sin in the life of a Christian?

A. God judged at our sin at Calvary.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

B. God chastens His children when they continue in sin.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews 12:6

C. God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:7-8

IV. How can a Christian get the victory over sin?

A. By accepting responsibility for his own sin.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

B. By refusing to allow sinful thoughts to control his mind.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

C. By not giving the flesh an opportunity to achieve its desires.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

D. By remembering that he is dead to sin in Jesus Christ.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:1-10

D. By agreeing with God about his sin (judging it).

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I Corinthians 11:31-32

E. By confessing his sins to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

F. By recognizing that God has made a way to escape from every temptation.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

G. By remembering God’s Word.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

H. By trusting God’s promises and praying.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

I. By walking in the Holy Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

J. By being led by, and following after, the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

K. By submitting himself to regular examinations by the Holy Ghost.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

V. Memory Verses

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

The Last but Not the Least – Part 1

August 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Jeremiah | 28 Comments
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Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

To covet is to have a sinful desire directed toward what someone else has. Is it a sin? Yes (“Thou shalt not covet“), but let’s be honest – how many of us have coveted at least once this past week? Most, if not all.

If you are not covetous, what are you? What is the opposite? To not be covetous is to be content. It is to be satisfied with what God has given you and done for you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11 (emphasis added)

In the Old Testament, priests and Jewish scholars, and those serious about obeying God, bound the Word of God on their arms, on their foreheads, on their chests. It might be good for us to put Philippians 4:11 on our refrigerators, on the dashboards of our cars, on your coffeemakers, on our bathroom mirrors, on our alarm clocks, on the covers of our Bibles.

What is the opposite of contentment? It’s covetousness. Covetousness is a sin. It’s not one of the 10 Suggestions; it’s one of the 10 Commandments. It’s number 10. It comes after commandments like, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Most people won’t voluntarily admit it if they commit adultery – or murder – but if you ask a group of people, “Come on, how many of you have coveted this week?” most will be willing to raise their hands. We consider covetousness to be, not only the last of the 10 Commandments, but also the least – thus the title of this message: “The Last but Not the Least.”

Is it really that bad to covet? Let’s look at a few places in the Bible and see how God looks at the “little” sin of covetousness:

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Mark 7:21-23 (emphasis added)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Romans 1:28-31 (emphasis added)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Ephesians 5:3 (emphasis added)

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11 (emphasis added)

How does God classify the sin of covetousness? He classifies it along with murder and fornication and theft and extortion and adultery and all the worse types of behaviors that sinful man can dream up in his sinful heart. “Thou shalt not covet” is not the 10th Commandment because it’s the 10th in importance. It’s the 10th Commandment because it is the sin that leads men to break all the nine other ones. It’s the last, but not the least.

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Treat it as a command. BE content. We’ve been led astray by psychology. We’ve been taught to think we have no control over our feelings or our emotions. So we say, I either am content, or I’m not – I can’t just make myself ‘be’ content.”

But we can:

… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

“Let” in that verse means “make” or “cause.”

Being content brings generosity.

Jesus Christ had the right to act like God – to take control and enjoy everything He owned. But He took on the form of a Servant and He was content. There is a freedom that comes with wanting good things for others, and not for ourselves. Children think they will be happy if they win the fight they are having over who will get the front seat of the van, or who will get to use a toy over the exclusion of his brother or sister, but that type of squabbling really enslaves them and makes them miserable. The world says that if you do not covet – that if you don’t make sure you get what’s coming to you – you won’t get anything good. But as Christians, we don’t want “what we have coming to us,” anyway. We don’t want what we deserve. God gave His Son for me. How freeing it is to remember that, and to try to be like Him – to get excited about giving instead of getting. There are bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but that’s not true. Life is not a race to see how much we can get. It’s a race to see how much we can give. It’s not, “He who gets the most, wins.” It’s, “He who gives the most, wins.”

Life is for living, not for making.
Life is for giving, not for taking.

(Couplet I made up, which proves I stink at writing poetry, but which helps me to remember a Bible principle)

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

How many sermons have you heard about supposed solutions for the problem of how “empty” we are? I said earlier that Christ Jesus took on the form of a Servant, and was more of a giver than a taker – and yet, according to Scripture, He was not empty. Up until the days when He was preparing to go to the Cross, He was full. He was constantly full. I’m not one of those “prosperity” preachers, but from what I can see in Scripture, the Lord wants us to be continually full. We are to be like Christ. Why are we so empty, and always trying to get more things, and always wanting more and better? Why are we not full? It’s not because we don’t have enough. It’s because we have too much: too much vanity.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Jeremiah 2:5

The Lord is telling these people that their fathers became vain because they walked after vanity. Jesus was never empty because He never walked after emptiness. His meat was to do the will of His Father (John 4:31-34). When I am vain – when I am empty – it’s because I’ve been walking after vanity – after emptiness. When I am walking after the things of God, I am content – I am full. And when I am full, I not only have the ability to bless others, but I am reminded to be grateful to God. This point will be developed more in Part 2.

The Solemn Ascension

May 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 10 Comments
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Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5

This is a good text to use if you ever have a “solemn assembly” service at your church. It is okay to be solemn in church, and solemnity is very much lacking in the demeanor of many modern Christians. Titus Chapter 2 says for the elder men to exhort the young men to be sober, and for the older women to exhort the younger women to be sober. Sober means solemn, serious, alert, vigilant – serious about getting sin out of your life. We all need to be serious about getting the sin cleaned out of our life. Even the Apostle Paul said he did not speak as one who had already attained or who was perfect (Philippians 3:12).

If you read the Bible long enough, you will meet yourself – your true self – and you will not like what you will see. You will hunger and thirst for righteousness – and a knowledge of God – and you will be blessed. But we must do more than just agree that the Bible is the Word of God. We must resolve that, if the Word says we are in sin, we will get out of sin – that’s repentance.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3

Who can ascend? Who can climb the hill of the Lord? The strong? The swift? The worldly wise? We must throw out our worldly ideas of what it means to “ascend” – to go up. Can the prestigious ascend? The famous? The wealthy? The influential? Since this hill is the Lord’s hill, and since He recognizes no strength in men because He created all men from dirt, who will ascend?

Will the ones who ascend be the weary ones? “No,” says the world, “you have to have your own energy to ascend.”

Will the ones who ascend be the contrite ones? “No,” says the world, “it takes boldness to climb a mountain.”

Will the ones who ascend be the broken ones? “No,” says the world, “there are no handicapped mountain-climbers.”

But what does God say?

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

God says no one will ascend His hill under his or her own power. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who get weary, but do not depend on their own strength.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones who have a Guide who will lead them over or around the streams and boulders of temptation.

The only ones who will ascend are those who have the right foot-gear – their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones who the Lord Himself will lift up.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3

And who will stand? Who will remain in the holy place? Who will draw near and stay near? Billy Sunday said, “Revivals may not last. Neither do baths, but it’s good to have one occasionally.” However, we want to ascend and stand – to stay there – to get right and stay right.

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:4

We will stand and remain by having clean hands and pure hearts. This means more than following a set of rules and regulations. Jesus was hardest on the Pharisees because they claimed to love the Law – but wanted nothing to do with the Lawgiver.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

We are going to have to, by faith, follow after the Lord. We must realize that our hands are dirty, and we must trust Christ to clean them. The hands of sinners are stained and bloody. They are filthy and vile. But:

… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

What makes our hands so unclean?

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

I Timothy 2:8

Wrath makes our hands unclean – so does doubting. When we have an unpleasant ministry job to do, we say we’re “getting our hands dirty” – but spiritually we are not defiled by unpleasant tasks of love. Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean. In our flesh, we are quick to touch the attractive. Who doesn’t like to hold a cute baby? Or hug an attractive person? We are not so quick, however, to lift our hands when it’s time to take out the trash. Water can wash away physical uncleanness, but what can wash away sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

“Clean hands and pure hearts,” Psalm 24:4 says. But what washes the heart to make it pure? The Word of God. Christ gave Himself for the Church,

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

The heart that truly wants to know God will not lift itself up to vanity. Ultimately, vanity is idolatry. If vanity is anything that is spiritually empty, then 99.9% of what the average person does is lifting up his soul to vanity. What should we be doing with vanity? With emptiness? With anything that is what the Bible calls “imaginations” – anything without eternal worth?

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

We should be casting it down, not lifting ourselves up to it. Casting down means destroying. In the Old Testament, God wanted the Canaanites destroyed – even the women, children, livestock, altars, statues of false gods – everything. Why? Because they were like thorns or weeds or cancer. If they were only trimmed down, they would spread and grow back stronger. If we are going to have repentance – and revival – we are going to have to cast down imaginations, not just what the imaginations produce. We must seek the cause of our sinful behavior, and get the root out. We must cast out imaginations and worldly thinking. There is no revival without repentance. If you’ve ever been closer to God than you are right now, then you are backslidden. Here is the result of getting right with God:

He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:5

Forgetting To Remember – Part 1

April 23, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, I Corinthians, II Corinthians | 14 Comments
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And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24

Many times, the Word of God tells us to do things that it seems like we just should not have to be told to do. “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). “Wives, submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18). “Children, obey your parents” (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20). “Love one another” (starting in John 13:34 and 18 more times). “Be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). When we think of all these things that we have to be told to do – often more than once – maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that, even though we owe Him everything, we still have to be told to remember the Lord Jesus Christ.

How could we forget Him, even for a moment? I am afraid it has to do with proximity – with what we are close to.

You might say, “Nothing is closer to me than My Savior! His very blood has washed my soul! He is my Lord, my Master, my Friend, my Constant Companion.” I hope that is your testimony – but you have another one living within you who might argue with you about that: the flesh man. He still desires the pretty things of this world – the pleasurable things of this world. Dare I say, the sinful things of this world? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – these things are very, very close to him every day. Yes, God’s love and God’s presence are far greater and far more powerful than the lure of these things. But the sun’s size and gravitational pull are far greater than the moon’s. In fact, the earth is bigger than the moon. Yet the moon pulls the seas and causes waves. It has a great effect on the earth simply because it is closer to it. That is why, if we are to obey the Lord – and remember Him – we must also be in a constant effort to fortify the spirit man for battle against the flesh man.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

According to the Lord, we are a forgetful people. Perhaps we are too forgetful because we don’t pause to truly consider how glorious our Lord is – and what a glorious thing He has done in providing for our salvation. I once heard a story about a missionary in Asia or the Philippines who preached to a group of Christian converts, and then retired to his own tent for the night. In the morning, when he went back to the place of meeting, he was surprised to find that the converts had not gone home and had not slept all night. He tried to explain to them that, when he left for the night, the meeting had been over, and they had been free to go back to their own homes. “What?” was their shocked reply, “You told us last night that the Son of God died to save us from the punishment we deserve because of our sins, and that He then rose again from the dead! How can we sleep after hearing THAT?” Sadly, in our culture, I am afraid that some us fall asleep while hearing it.

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

II Corinthians 3:9

The Old Covenant Law was a ministry of condemnation and (in a sense) death.

For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

II Corinthians 3:10-11

The Old Covenant was glorious, but it was a fading glory. When we speak of forgetfulness, we say that the memory is starting to “fade.” But the New Covenant is so much more glorious – it will never fade away – and it must never fade from our memory. We have little trouble remembering the birthdays of so-called “great” men who contributed to our culture, country, or history. We have little trouble remembering the people in our life who have sacrificed for us or done us some great kindness in the past. How much more has Christ done for us!

To be continued…

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